Benninghoff calls for investigation

BELLEFONTE – State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, recently sent a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett requesting a formal state investigation – in addition to the criminal investigation being conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police – into the sexual assault of a female worker on July 25 at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview.

Benninghoff said the formal investigation is necessary to protect prison workers in the future.

On the morning of July 25, a female staff member at SCI Rockview was sexually assaulted by a male inmate. The employee, a unit clerk assigned to a housing area, was rendered unconscious during the assault and was later taken by ambulance to Mount Nittany Medical Center.

In his letter, Benninghoff offered to work with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, to conduct hearings in Centre County.

Benninghoff said he was writing to request a formal, comprehensive investigation, in tandem with the state police criminal investigations, to the staffing procedures, scheduling, and policies at SCI Rockview.

He said in his letter that it was his understanding this assailant had a history of violence and was convicted of a prior sexual assault.

Benninghoff said the Department of Corrections and elected officials, as representatives of the Commonwealth, not only have the responsibility to keep our constituents safe from those who choose to commit crimes, but also a responsibility to in sure those persons working in and around correction institutions a safe work environment.

Benninghoff further stated that it had been brought to his attention that this was the fifth assault at SCI Rockview in the last couple of months.

Benninghoff said he was formally requesting that immediate action be taken, whether additional lockdowns are in order or, at minimum, all sexual predator class inmates are prohibited them from working in or being granted access to areas with non-officer female employees.